Dogs Die in Cars


With temperatures rising this week, are you aware of the dangers of leaving your dog in a parked car?

Imagine the scene – its 25 Deg C, a sunny day and you need to head out to the shops on an errand and you decide to take your dog with you, because there’s nothing he loves better than to ride along in your car, sticking his head out of the side window. You park right outside the supermarket and leave your pooch in the car with the windows wound slightly open. You just need a couple of items in the store, so your dog should be OK – however, the checkout queue is long or you linger to chat with your neighbour. Your pet should still be OK? After all, he’s only been there for less than around 20 minutes? Wrong – totally incorrect!

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 38 and 39 degrees C. if their body temperature rises above 41 degrees C, heatstroke sets in and just 20 minutes in a hot car can prove lethal. At these high body temperatures, your pet can suffer lack of oxygen and decreased blood flow which will result in multiple organ failure and death.

What happens to your dog when he is locked inside a hot car?

0-5 minutes – The temperature rises, and your dog will begin to pant as he tries to cool himself down. His heart rate will rise, as his body pushes more blood to the surface of his body, in an attempt to dissipate heat.

5-10 minutes – The dog’s blood vessels will dilate, prompting a dramatic fall in blood pressure. As a result of this, the cooling mechanisms that your pet will normally activate will not function, and he will get even hotter.

10-15 minutes – Your pet’s blood vessels will begin to clot, as a result of this thermal damage. There will be a reduction in blood flow to his kidneys, his liver and gastrointestinal tract, starving the organs of necessary blood flow.

15-20 minutes – With temperatures in the car rising, thermal injury increases with even less blood flow to his body. Hypoglycaemia can result.

20-25 minutes – Large scale cell damage will rampage through your dog’s body as the blood clots. Vomiting, diarrhoea and gastric ulcers can result. Renal failure can be caused by the release of toxins and this micro clotting.

25-30 minutes – As your pet’s body temperature reaches 42 Deg C, clotting continues which prevents oxygen and blood not being supplied to his vital organs.

30 minutes – By this time, the lack of oxygen and blood to his brain will display as reduced mental stability. Your dog will show signs of depression, seizures, muscle tremors and even a state of coma. The possibility of him surviving this heat trauma is negligible – if he hasn’t already died!

If you see a dog in distress in a parked car

Obviously, this is a rather difficult situation if you are the person who finds the dog in a hot car. If you don’t feel confident to deal with the car’s owner when they return, immediately call 999 to alert the police, your local dog warden, or seek a Vet’s advice.  The main priority is to stop the dog from becoming any hotter; if possible move him to a cooler location, and provide some shade. Attempt to cool the dog with damp towels or blankets to gradually lower his temperature. As a rule, breaking into a person’s car could result in you being charged for criminal damage. Take the advice of the Police, but if you discover a dog that is facing death in a hot car, if you take action to help, the law could well be on your side.

If possible, take these additional steps that will help to clarify the situation should you need to break into a car to rescue a dying dog!

  • Use your phone’s weather app and take a screen shot to show how hot it actually is
  • Ask a passer-by to record a video of the dog inside the car
  • Ask another person to record your actions as you try to rescue the distressed dog

If you se a dog walker, please check if they use a car or van and if the dogs travel in crates that have fans fitted – whilst these are not a complete solution thy will help keep the dog cool during the jornal.

Raise awareness

Finchley Dog Walker is trying to raise awareness among dog owners, and as a result, hopefully, the more people that are aware of this, the number of dogs who actually die in hot cars will reduce.

I ask that you please share this article on your Social Media or Facebook page. Please add a link from this article to your own blogs and websites, and in doing so, we can spread the word about the dangers of leaving our dogs in cars during the hot weather. Thank you – let’s keep all of our dogs safe this summer.

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